Most people know the practical side of Moore’s Law. They get some kind of computer device every other Christmas, and expect it to be about twice as powerful. Moore’s Law technically states that the amount of transistors that can fit on a silicon chip roughly doubles every 18 months. The result is an exponential growth in computational power.

Theoretically, it shouldn’t be very long before computers are smarter than we are (perhaps less than 100 years). At this hypothetical point in time, computers would actually be better computer designers than humans, and the intellectual growth of computers will skyrocket faster than we can keep track of it.  This event has been coined the singularity. A lot of people are scared about it, and others embrace the potential world it could produce. But there is a ringing death toll for the silicon industry.

There are several major problems facing the future of the computer industry. They are only increasing power by reducing the size of a transistor. There’s no actual innovation in computer design until you go into fringe research like quantum computers, molecular computers, and a variety of biological computers. The inevitable death of Moore’s law is going to happen sooner than the singularity (10 to 50 years). As a silicon wire narrows to about 5 atoms wide, it stops conducting and starts combusting. There’s a limit to how small we can shrink our chips.


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